1st September 2017, London, United Kingdom - The Burma Human Rights Network is monitoring events throughout Burma and in Burmese media with significant concern as Government outlets, local media and Burmese social media are taking major roles in destabilizing an already chaotic situation in Northern Rakhine State, following attacks on 30 police posts by the insurgent group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on August 25th. Official Government Facebook pages have utilized dehumanizing language and placed restrictions on media outlets insisting they do the same while a major campaign demonizing the Rohingya population and aid workers inside of Rakhine State is underway. These elements combined have the potential to take an already deadly and chaotic situation between insurgents and security forces and turn it into one of communal conflict as well, which could drastically increase the number of injured, killed and displaced, and have already resulted in an attack on four local journalists in Maungdaw. These efforts by the Government, Military and nationalists follow a pattern previously witnessed in Myanmar during times of unrest in Rakhine State and may easily worsen the situation again if not addressed and corrected.
25 August, 2017 London, United Kingdom – At around 1:20AM civilians in Maungdaw reported to a loud explosion to BHRN which was followed by gunfire to the north of Maungdaw. Within a few hours civilians reported hearing gunfire again. Reports quickly emerged of fighting between the militant group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and the Burmese Military. Reports emerged that ARSA ambushed up to 25 security posts in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung. Estimates from Government sources say that 21 militants, 10 police and one soldier were killed, but totals are suspected to be higher. The Government also claimed that the attacks were carried out by over a thousand men organized and acting in different locations simultaneously. Reports to BHRN indicate many Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh took part in the fighting. It has been relayed to BHRN that many of the refugees who fled last years fighting between ARSA and the Burmese Army were recruited and trained since winter of last year. ARSA has claimed responsibility for initiating the attacks in response to the blockade on Rathedaung, recent killings of Rohingya by security forces and increased troop presence in northern Rakhine State.
3 August 2017 London, UK – The Burma Human Rights Network and 19 other Organizations have issued a letter to Burma’s State Chancellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, calling on the Burmese Government to ensure the rights of Burmese Muslims following a spat of anti-Muslim incidents inside the country. The incidents, many of them broadly documented by rights groups and local and foreign media, involved efforts by ultra nationalist and authorities to limit the ability of Muslims to freely practice their religion inside of the country. The undersigned includes a variety of ethnic and religious groups in and outside of Burma concerned about the rise of religious nationalism in the country.
The Organizations are:
Arakan Rohingya National Organisation ARNO, Burma Campaign UK,Burma Human Rights Network BHRN, Burma Task Force, Burmese Muslim Association BM, Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, Chin Human Rights Organization, Christian Solidarity Worldwide CSW, Free Burma Campaign (South Africa), Geutanyoe Foundation, Humaniti Malaysia, International Campaign for the Rohingya,Jewish Alliance of Concern Over Burma (JACOB), Majlis Perundingan Pertubuhan Islam Malaysia (MAPIM), Malaysian Humanitarian Aid and Relief (MAHAR), Odhikar, Progressive Voice (Myanmar), Restless Beings, Stefanus Alliance International.